Museum Field Trip Review

  • Pick 1 interactive installation and describe what you like and dislike about it

    • Story of the Forest is the installation that attracted me the most. As always, teamLab is able to create an immersive and mystical world that is also aesthetically pleasing. It brings some kind of fantastic environment from the digital world that can’t really exist in our physical world. I really like the algorithmic behaviours of the animals which is entertaining to watch in my opinion. I love it when the animals glitch out too! I think these kind of appearance made it more interesting for the viewers, as they try to see what the individual animals can do or react to its environment. I am also really impressed with how they seamlessly connected the projectors together into one long piece of work.
A section of the panoramic projection
One of the rare bois
One projector only do a small part, but when everyone comes together, its beautiful. Just like ants.
    • What I don’t like about the work is that the interaction level is not just low, but is also unintuitive. The interaction only happens when participants stand near the walls at the bottom of the Glass Rotunda, which spawns a tree and animals. The spawning is very slow, which is quite disconnecting for viewers.

  • Describe how does this installation that you have selected fit into the overall environment, did it work? Why or why not?

    • The installation do not really fit into the overall environment in my opinion. It is quite a big jump in both the use of technology and style compared to the other exhibits. I don’t feel that it tells me much about William Farquhar’s drawings of the animals. It felt more like teamLab is doing their own thing and that it’s just animals without much meaning behind it. Although I appreciate the effort and style that is being put into the work, I can’t make that connection with history. I guess history is really much more boring and its difficult to represent it in artistic ways.

  • How is the audience invited to engage with the installation and how do they interact?

    • I think people want to get closer to the animals, and that’s how they are invited to view the installation. However, as mentioned earlier, the interaction only happens at the bottom of the Glass Rotunda, and there is no prompts for users to interact with the walls by going closer. I guess this kind of gives an element of surprise, and it also kind of adds to a different experience to the installation. But, I think that it’s not the best way to engage viewers to interact with the work.

  • From the installation that you have selected, pick at least 1 feature/idea/concept and discuss how you can incorporate it into your own interactive environment project
    • I think I may want to incorporate some kind of motion sensor to my project, actually. Like the spawning of the trees, it can maybe create some kind of ripples or be used to switch the visuals in my installation.


Hyperessay – teamLab, The Ultra-Technologists

teamLab founders Toshiyuki Inoko (left) and Takashi Kudo (right). Image taken from

The Japanese collective and interdisciplinary company, teamLab, calls themselves ‘ultra-technologists,’ a statement that suggests their rejection of labels to their roles in the company, but instead an integrated community of creatives working together with a common goal. Started out as a small company in 2001 doing programming for clients, teamLab made it to the international scene after Singapore Biennale 2013 where they were given a special showcase in Singapore Art Museum with their project ‘If the World Changed‘.

Artwork showcased in the Singapore Biennale 2013

teamLab aims to achieve a balance between art, science, technology and creativity by creating interactive artwork using mostly spaces, digital media, and technology like augmented reality to engage their audiences. The idea is to allow for audience participation so as to remove the notion of artworks being static. teamLab strongly believes that an artwork should be interactive, as they believe that the experience of the artwork becomes much richer when there is participation, and that creates a collective experience that is much better than the singular experience static artworks can provide for viewers. By simply creating interaction, teamLab allows their participants to be connected to the artwork.

The teamLab work that I would be studying more in depth would be ‘The Infinite Crystal Universe‘, which is a large-spaced installation filled with rows of digitally controlled LED lights that streams down from the ceiling, essentially using pointillism to create a 3D space filled with ‘stars’ in a universe. The LED shimmers and reacts to audiences by proximity and by the interaction with the app that controls the installation. Ambient music also plays to add to the atmosphere. Within the artwork, one may feel like an adventurer stumbling upon a mysterious yet beautiful space.

The Infinite Crystal Universe, teamLab, 2015-2018, Interactive Installation of Light Sculpture, LED.
Image taken from

At first glance, one can tell how visually stunning the artwork is, perfect for audiences interacting with it through social media posting. The highlight comes when an audience uses a smartphone to control the artwork using an app.

Image taken from

Through this action, the audience can choose an object to be sent out, which changes the music and allow the object to explode within the artwork into a spectacular LED light show that mimics galactic activities like supernovas. Within this interaction itself, the sender and the other audiences witnesses the spectacle made by the small action of a swipe. As the other audiences realise what they can do, they can start making their own objects and watching their creation blast into the universe and explode beautifully.

At its essence, the artwork encourages interaction through an awesome experience that connects everyone together in the same space, watching the same thing, feeling the same emotions. The artwork evoke a sense of how small we humans are in terms of the scale of the universe, yet one action made by us can impact everyone’s life so greatly. Without audiences, this artwork would not achieve the effect that it was made to express. As such, the artwork is very much in line with teamLab’s ideas of an interactive installation.

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In reference to Roy Ascott’s reading ‘Behavioural Art and the Cybernetic Vision’, ‘The Infinite Crystal Universe‘ exhibits some behavioural art characteristics. Firstly, the artwork allows for control and communication between the digital LEDs and the audience, and amongst audiences. The shift in the states of the LED cues the audiences to contemplate on the meaning behind the art, while also allows the audience to imagine the things they can do, while audiences can signal amongst themselves to teach each other on the artwork’s interactions. This feedback loop within said interactions and relationships, allows for the artwork to be in a constant state of change, keeping the artwork alive. Without the audience participation, the feedback loop would break, and the artwork would not function the way it should be. The artwork is also ambiguous, unstable, uncertain, and open-ended, which allows for a flexible interpretation as well as a flexible interaction. In this sense, the lines between art, artefact, and experience is blurred where audience and their experiences becomes part of the artwork.

John Cage’s ‘Variations V’. Image taken from

We can also see that teamLab also have very close visions with John Cage, which can be seen in his works ‘Variations V‘ where he made use of indeterminacy, chance, and unpredictability in his works to reimagine musical compositions, which is deemed too deterministic. By using chance to control musical composition, John Cage allowed the audience (the dancers) to not just be part of the artwork but also be essential for the artwork to exist. We can imagine the audiences in ‘The Infinite Crystal Universe‘ as the dancers in ‘Variations V‘, where the audience is given a set of choices, but their actions are completely unpredictable, while at the same time they become part of the artwork to make it alive. The artwork operates by chance, and through this controlled chance, audiences are encouraged to experiment with different combinations of objects to send out, and in whole, creates interaction. Although 50 years apart, we can draw similarities in the concepts of interactivity between both artworks.

teamLab’s ‘The Infinite Crystal Universe‘ exhibits both their own collective philosophy as well as important principles that characterises interactive art. Even though they are geographically and chronologically distant from previously studied interactive works, the principles still hold true. However,  there is also an evolution not just in terms of the technology used, but also in the way that people interact with the work. In our current society, social media is very prevalent and as such, artworks are made purposefully simple and photogenic for the purpose of being ‘Instagramable’. Artworks have thus incorporated this property and that added to another layer of interactivity. We have seen how teamLab have also included the idea of connectivity between audience and the art such that it could be easily understandable, which is absent from older forms of interactive art like John Cage’s ‘Variations V’.  As such, interactive artworks are still changing, and with the globalised society, the future of interactive art could become more and more advanced.


teamlab planets tokyo: a ‘body immersive’ exhibition of all-encompassing digital art

5 Minutes With… teamLab!

Interactive Installation Transports Viewers to Dazzling Universe of Infinite Lights

Hyperessay Key Work Selection: The Infinite Crystal Universe

I will be looking at the artwork ‘The Infinite Crystal Universe’ by teamLab.

Here’s the artwork description:

Pointillism uses an accumulation of distinct dots of color to create a picture, here light points are used to create three-dimensional objects. This interactive artwork expresses the universe through accumulated light points that spread infinitely in all directions.

People can use their smartphones to select elements that make up the universe by dragging them and releasing them into the The Infinite Crystal Universe. Each element released influences that of other elements and is influenced by the presence of people in the space. The work is created by people in the space and is thus continuously changing forever.

I really love love love this artwork because I also have a personal story tied with this artwork. I visited Art Science Museum alone before entering ADM after experiencing a down period of my life. It was a great experience going there alone as I have all the time to myself interacting with all the artworks.

The one that strike me most was, of course, this artwork. I walked through the curtains of LED thinking it would just be an “Instagram” artwork (seen it online too many times). When I reached the end, I saw an Ipad and the text description of the artwork, and decided to meddle with it. I apparently sent out a ‘star’ which appear in the artwork itself, and it exploded, creating a visual and auditory spectacle. Meanwhile, the crowd of photo-takers are just amazed by the change in environment, unaware that I, 1 person, with 1 swipe, just did all these. It was an overwhelming experience.

What I felt was that, with a small action, I can feel so powerful and yet also feel so lonely. I literally teared. Like really, words can’t describe what I felt.

SO. I feel so connected with this artwork and I also like astronomy so the whole idea of space, planets, and stars are very interesting to me.

The Infinite Crystal Universe, teamLab, 2015-2018, Interactive Installation of Light Sculpture, LED. Image taken from

I chose this artwork as its intend is not just straightforward, but also very impactful. My interpretation is that, on a personal level, we can see how small we all are, yet, how easily we can impact the world around us. On a whole, the interactivity is very apparent and forms some kind of relationship between the “universe maker” and the rest of the audience. There is some sense of immersion too, as audiences gets up close with the LEDs.

Through this artwork, teamLab expresses their method of creating immersive works that dissolve borders between viewer and works which allowed for quote: ‘continuous dynamic behavior, visual phenomena, and the ability to transform the canvas’. 

‘by doing so, the boundaries between the body and the work become ambiguous, which may become the starting point for people to think about their relationship with the world.

interactivity, immersion, constantly changing, feedback loop, audience > work > other audience > work > etc

teamlab planets tokyo: a ‘body immersive’ exhibition of all-encompassing digital art

Hyperessay Artist Selection: teamLab

The artist I am choosing is teamLab.

teamLab is a Japanese collective, interdisciplinary group that uses digital media as their playground for art-making through the use of augmented reality, interactive spaces, and various technologies.  Calling themselves ‘ultra-technologists,’ teamLab aims to achieve a balance between art, science, technology and creativity.

teamLab was founded in 2001, a company that did not made it in art, but instead made applications, back-end systems, web design, interfaces, and data bases. They became major after the Singapore Bienalle 2013 which they were given a special showcase in Singapore Art Museum. The Bienalle drew a total of 560,000 visitors, and the success of the event made teamLab go international. teamLab founder Toshiyuki Inoko, Takashi Kudo, teamLab’s Communications Director and one of the first members of the collective. teamLab is now an internationally known brand which has about 500 staffs in Tokyo, as well as small offices in Singapore, New York, and Los Angeles. teamLab also have 4 permanent exhibitions in Singapore, Future World: Where Art Meets Science at the ArtScience Museum, Story of The Forest at The National Museum, Digital Light Canvas at Marina Bay Sands’ former skating rink and Flowers and People – Dark at the National Gallery.


The Infinite Crystal Universe, teamLab, 2015-2018, Interactive Installation of Light Sculpture, LED. Image taken from

With works like ‘The Infinite Crystal Universe,’ ‘Walk, Walk, Walk: Search, Deviate, Reunite,‘  ‘Sketch Aquarium,’ teamLab created immersive and interactive worlds full of colours and imagination. teamLab not only engages audiences with beautiful worlds, but also allow them to interact with it by adding their own part to the artwork (as seen in Sketch Aquarium).

When asked about the considerations put into the production of a teamLab work, the response was:

Interactive artworks encourage viewer participation. Common interactive media, such as video games, PCs, smartphones, Internet applications, and the like, involve people who purposely wish to interact directly with the world, actually intervening and executing some functions in order to do so. However, teamLab focuses much more on connecting interactivity and art, regardless of whether the viewer purposely wishes to intervene and execute some actions, so that art is changed simply by the mere existence of another person. In addition, if the change caused by the existence of that third person looks beautiful, then the existence of that person also becomes beautiful.

At the very least, with the conventional type of art that people have experienced up until now, the presence of other viewers constituted more of a hindrance than anything else. If you found yourself alone at an exhibition, you would consider yourself to be very lucky. However, teamLab’s exhibitions are different: the existence of other viewers is definitely seen as a positive element.

Sketch Aquarium, teamLab, 2013-present. Image taken from
Walk, Walk, Walk: Search, Deviate, Reunite. 2018. Image taken from

According to one online article, chief creative officer Takumi Nomoto said this:

“It’s about creating something that’s against what people see as the norm,” Nomoto says, smiling. “If I go to a museum and I see art hanging on the wall I don’t feel any connection to it, it’s just a painting on the wall. However, if you’re part of the art, if you play an integral part, then you can connect with it.”

teamLab’s philosophy is essentially creating non-static interactive artwork that one can relate to, and that generates the feedback loop which is crucial for the artworks to stay alive. The futuristic visions of teamLab allows for such a playful yet awe-inspiring works. I find this philosophy really interesting and something that I would love to do. Being able to meddle with technology to extend one’s perception of the world is one thing that is great. To be able to inspire people with the creation of universes is another experience that cannot be put into words.

For a software programming company to transition into an art-making one, their approach to design is really candid, enthusiastic, and really different from trained artists which I feel made them really lovable and genuine in the way they make art. When art and science comes together, it becomes something without boundaries. When we start seeing science as art, and throw away preconceived ideas of what art should be, we can really appreciate this new ways we perceive art. Just like Nam June Paik’s ‘Magnet TV,’ teamLab can be revolutionary in our time to create a more hopeful future for not just the art world, but also for reality.


5 Minutes With… teamLab!